Dream Job or Fantasy?

I recently read about a 24 year old, Scott Nicholson, who is living at home because he can’t find a job “that suits him”. He is a college grad who has a lot going for him, except one thing. He has an entitlement mentality. Why do I say that? Because he applied for one job at an insurance company (management training) and was interviewed for and offered a job for a different one (claims adjuster). He turned it down. The job paid $40,000 a year and was the first (and only) job offer Scott had received in 5 months of looking.

According to him, he was going to hold out for the job he “really wanted”. Which is? A corporate position that would draw on his college training and put him on the bottom rungs of a career ladder. In his view, anything less would be a waste of his early work-years… something he called “dead-end work”.

As you might imagine from the above, Scott only applies for positions that he considers “acceptable”.

But is Scott representative? Yes and no. Scott’s friends and older brother support him in this view and think he is doing the right thing. In fact, they either did the same thing or are doing the same thing… or are in “less fulfilling” work.

Survey of “Millennials” (the term for those coming of age around the turn of the millennium — 18-29 year olds today) show that they insist on job satisfaction above all else… including having a job at all. It gives a new twist to the phrase “my way or the highway.”

But this attitude is not limited to Millennials. Every week I read articles (in the newspaper and online) about people who “can’t find work”. I read the job advice columns (comparing my answer and advice with the columnist.) In these columns people write in with their stories and problems encountered in trying to find work. Sometimes they are truly looking for advice, sometimes they just want a sympathetic ear and someone to tell them that it’s not them, it’s the “mean old system.”

And what do I see repeated over and over again? Entitlement. I have to get my old job back… even if it is at a different employer. I knew that job. I was comfortable with that job. I liked what that job paid. It is MY job.

The job seekers are Baby Boomers, Gen X’ers, Gen Y’ers… the whole gamut. And when the columnist suggests that they consider looking for similar jobs in different fields… or taking a lesser job while they look (and wait) for their preferred job to come available… the response is pretty consistent. “You don’t understand.” “But that job isn’t good enough for me.” “But it isn’t my old job.” “I wouldn’t have time to work one job and look for another.” And many varieties of the same.

If this is you (or someone you know), then I am going to cover some things you can do to change the situation in my next post. But in the meantime, remember that futurists have been saying for 20 years that the world of work and business is changing. No longer is someone going to have one career for his whole life. They predicted 3-5 career changes for a person. Not job changes, career changes.

A career change is where you no longer adjust claims because you now give physical therapy treatment to patients. Or where you no longer manage factory workers… instead you open your own cabinet shop. Changing from one type of work to a completely different one. (Okay, sometimes it’s not a complete switch but a significant change to a related field.)

This has been predicted for 20 years and it has been happening. You can’t get your old job back. The old job doesn’t exist anymore. If you want to survive, you must move on and adapt.

Fortunately, adapting is the one thing humans are really good at. And if you are still seeking your first “real” job? Get started. Get moving. Get something. Remember, it is easier to find a job when you have a job. It doesn’t have to be your ideal job… or even your ideal career… because whatever career you choose will change before too long.

Got a different view? Been there, done that? Share with us in the comments.

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